A Glorious Spring Day

by Margaret Powling-

It has been the most glorious blue-sky day here in sunny South Devon.  We decided we would visit a local garden centre as we needed compost and also a new pot in which I could plant some dahlias (whenever I plant them directly into the garden, they are always eaten by something, not sure what, perhaps snails, but not a trace is left.  We’re now going to attempt to grow lovely Bishop of Llandaf dahlias in a pot and then cover the soil with sharp sand to put the little blighters off!  There are plenty of weeds, why don’t they cultivate a taste for them?  

The drive to Jack’s Patch Garden Centre is a pleasant one, and while this is definitely not a nursery garden but a garden centre (i.e. horticultural supermarket) the plants are always high quality.  Husband wanted an acer and so we bit the bullet and paid quite a lot of money for one, but oh, it’s so pretty!   I just hope it will thrive in our garden.  We intend to keep it in a pot (not the one it’s in, but as it grows we will plant it in a larger pot).  Here it is in the foreground of this photos (below).

We bought ericaceous compost for it, and will keep it watered in dry weather, and put it in the shade when it is very hot, indeed it will be treated like royalty, so let’s hope it responds to doesn’t keel over.

We didn’t stop for coffee at Jack’s Patch but motored on, across the Shaldon Bridge to the village of Shaldon.  We parked our car and walked along the promenade to The Clipper Café where we had coffee …

Not the most beautiful of buildings – hence a smaller photo – but from the balcony overlooking the river, the views are really pretty.  The headland in the distance is called The Ness (or “nose”.) 

On other occasions we have strolled around Shaldon where there are some very pretty properties, many with small gardens which give onto the sands …

and some are around the village bowling green …


Some line the river front have pretty walls into which they have planted seasonal flowers …

And some houses are truly elegant …

From The Clipper Café we walked to Homeyards Botanical Garden, which is on the hillside overlooking the village.

You mightn’t be able to read the above, but this garden was created by Maria Laetitia Kempe Homeyard in the 1930s. Her husband was the creator of the cough medicine, Liqufruta, and on her death in 1944 she gave the garden to the local council.  It opened to the public in 1955.   It is a lovely place from which to catch glimpses of the River Teign through the trees and the town of Teignmouth on the far side of the river.

This area of the river is known as The Salty as it is tidal, and here you can see it at low tide. At high tide the sandy area mid-river is covered with water.

The pond in the rill garden

From here we made our way back to our car, down a steep road (well, it is rather hilly in Devon!) lined with pink flowering cherry trees …

Before reaching the car park we scrambled up a grassy bank so that I could take a photo of Teignmouth through the trees …

And everywhere, the pretty pink cherry trees and banks covered with primroses …

While we were in the botanical garden we chatted to a volunteer gardener and he mentioned that the tulips in the parterre of Oldway Mansion in Paignton were currently looking spectacular.   As Oldway Mansion, once home to the Singer family of sewing machine fame, is fairly close to where we live, we thought we’d park and take a look on the way home.  Sadly, this lovely building is currently empty – it used to be council offices – until a decision is made on its future.   But the council are maintaining the gardens and they’re looking lovely right now …

Perhaps I’ve put rather too much information in this post!  I could have saved the various places we have seen today for different different posts, but no, I thought I’d show all the places instead.

My final piece of good news was that on Saturday I picked the winner of the Grand National!  It was so funny!  Younger son phoned and said “It’s the National today, would you like me to put a bet on for you?”  Well, truth to tell, we had quite forgotten it was the National so I quickly opened the paper, and looked down the list of runners and riders.  I don’t know the first thing about form or anything like that, but one name stood out:  One for Arthur.  My dear late uncle, my mother’s eldest brother, was called Arthur, so I thought why not?  It came in at 14 to 1.  Not sure how much we gave won, we only put a small amount on the race just for fun, but at least we will have covered our bet!  (And when I say “we” I mean husband and myself, not the royal “we”!)

Now to make supper. I hope you have had a good day, too.

Until next time …


Margaret Powling


  1. Eloise

    Just don’t get a taste for the gambling, Margaret! At the gym I chose Thunder and Roses because I thought that’s what life is -a combination of thunderous times and sweet smelling rose times. Then at work we had a sweepstake and I picked Wonderful Charm from the ‘hat’. I believe it came fourth so no winnings there either. That’s my gambling over for another year.
    You have certainly had a busy day and visited some pretty places today. I don’t recall going to Shaldon but I may have done. It looks like my kind of place!
    The empty council offices are very grand – what a shame that the building isn’t in use. Perhaps it will be turned into accommodation. The former council offices here were made into apartments. It is a lovely building in attractive grounds and they sell for double the cost of other apartments.
    Your sea pictures are making me restless; I need to book some time away! We are going to cat -sit for my daughter at the end of the month. She lives in a semi rural Shropshire village in a pretty little mid 19th Century cottage so we will use it as a holiday cottage to have some days out. I still need some sea though!

    10 . Apr . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, there’s no chance of me getting a taste for gambling, Eloise! Once a year on the National isn’t really gambling, it’s a national tradition, ha ha! We had a second horse, so that husband and I had two in the race, and that was Pleasant Company and it managed to get around but wasn’t placed. A pity that your sweepstake didn’t pay for 4th as that would’ve been paid for at a betting shop. But, like you, that’s it for another year.
      The plan is for Oldway Mansion to become a luxury hotel but nothing has been decided yet.
      Rural Shropshire sounds lovely and peaceful. We spent time some years ago near Shrewsbury and really enjoyed it. But I do love to be by the sea.

      10 . Apr . 2017
  2. Pieta

    What a pretty post! I love the pictures of the beautiful houses in Shaldon and the gardens are so pretty in their spring colours.
    It’s so nice seeing the other side of the world in all its glory.

    10 . Apr . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Pieta. I think April and May in England are the lovliest of months, we don’t have fine weather all the time but when the sun shines, it’s really lovely, not to hot, just pleasant. And, yes, the gardens are really pretty in their spring colours – it is my favourite season.

      11 . Apr . 2017
  3. Mary, The Pouting Pensioner

    Beautiful shots, Margaret. I love that sea front stretch of Shaldon, always pleasant. And your Acer is an amazing colour. I’ve not had much luck with them but I remember that they don’t like draught. We shopped for tomato plants with the grandkiddies today.

    10 . Apr . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Mary, for your kind comments. The first acer we bought and planted … well, we thought we were doing the right thing, it is in a corner of the garden, sheltered behind a wall, but perhaps the drainage isn’t too good and they don’t like their roots waterlogged. It has struggled and we don’t think it will survive. Also, we have learned that they like an acid soil, so we bought ericaceous compost for the new one and will give the old one a feed of this and hope it will appreciate it! We are going to try growing the new one in a pot, and as it grows transplanting it to a larger pot. I think they are slow growers, so we won’t be needing a bath-tub size pot any time soon!
      Your grandchildren will love watching the tomatoes grow.

      11 . Apr . 2017
  4. Lara

    Another beautiful tour of your surrounds. You live in a beautiful area and are fortunate to enjoy it. I mean fortunate as I am amazed when you talk to people who live in or near beautiful places and they don’t appreciate it – almost like they go through life half asleep 😉
    I love your comment about treating the new plant like royalty ! It made me chuckle. I wish you all the best. I have no green thumb at all. When I worked in an office I had a stunning array of African violets, ferns and climbing plant that nearly took over. All were around my workstation and softened the drabness / beigeness of our open plan office. Fortunately my colleagues also enjoyed them and having no scent, they weren’t offensive to anyone. Alas, they were my only success story. I’ve never been a gardener and in each house I’ve lived I’ve merely inherited whatever was there on arrival. Mind you, I planted two large cuttings of frangipanis in our front yard. They sat for a few years looking pathetic, as frangipanis do, and after about six years suddenly started to show off their beautiful cream and yellow flowers with the sweetest scent. They are deciduous and not the most attractive plants in the cooler months but their show in the warmer months more than make up for this 🙂
    The row of little beach huts (?) is adorable. Thank you for including the photos of the houses. They are stunning.
    Another lovely outing xx

    11 . Apr . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I love living where I live, Lara, and thank my lucky stars that my father persuaded my mother to move from the then-industrial north of England to Torbay when I was a child.
      Strange things happen in our garden. We can plant things and they are OK for a season and then they have a habit of totally disappearing, no trace whatsoever. Every year we have planted lupins which we love but every year they disappear. So this year we have bought one and have planted it in a pot to keep our eyes on it!
      At Shaldon a row of about six modern beach huts were constructed a few years ago. I cut out a feature on them from the Daily Telegraph in 2012 which showed some of the lovely interiors. The price? £240,000!!! That’s not for all of them, that’s for each of them! They are right next door to The Clipper Café.

      11 . Apr . 2017
  5. Joy

    What a beautiful area! Your photos almost make me feel as if I am there–which will have to do!

    15 . Apr . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Joy, and thank you for your kind comments. Yes, Devon is lovely, both on the coast where we live and inland, towards the moors. I will post more photos again soon and in the meantime, Happy Easter.

      15 . Apr . 2017

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